NAC - N-ACETYL CYSTEINE
Jerry Hickey is a pharmacist and radio personality and fills the esteemed role of Scientific Director and President of Invite Health. He has spent his professional life analyzing nutritional information and medical studies with the aim of creating the highest quality and most natural nutraceuticals for user’s maximum health benefits. Here, Jerry speaks about the benefits of NAC…
N-A-C (N-ACETYL CYSTEINE) is a supplement that’s extremely useful. It’s in every hospital in the world. They have it in the emergency rooms. For instance, it’s the antidote to Tylenol poisoning of the liver. It’s the antidote to arsenic poisoning in mercury and lead. So, I use it for protecting the liver from nasty things. They used as an antidote for people who have consumed poisoned. It’s also used when they give that diagnostic test, when they inject the radioactive dyes.
In fact, if you go onto my website, invitehealth.com, there is a segment called radio, and if you click on that, it will say radio studies. If you go to August 9th of last year, there are studies on NAC protecting the kidneys and people who are going for these diagnostic tests. The thing is you have to take it for a week. What the doctors normally do is they give you an inhaler of Mucomyst before they inject you with a radioactive dye. The reason they do that is because the Mucomyst goes into the kidneys and protects them from the radiation, because you’re peeing up the radiation.
Now, it turns out from the most recent research that you’re urinating that radiation for a solid week after exposure. So, if they inject you with a dye in order to look at your heart or at your kidneys or at your brain, that radiation goes out through the kidneys and can burn and damage them, and once it damages the kidneys, you can't go back and reverse it.
So, they found out that even if they give you one inhalation of Mucomyst, that protects the kidneys. The problem is it doesn’t work in everyone.
When they did this study at Westchester Medical Center, they found out that if you give people a calcium-channel blocking drug that’s usually used for high blood pressure and N-ACETYL CYSTEINE before they're exposed to these radioactive drugs, it really helped protect them. You need to continue that NAC for a solid week. Now, Mucomyst is NAC in an inhaler. There are about 20 drugs approved for NAC as an inhaler in order to break up phlegm and mucus. So, they're used with patients with cystic fibrosis, emphysema, bronchiectasis and bronchitis.
NAC is good for women with polycystic ovarian syndrome. It is good protecting a woman’s breast if they have dense breast tissue. N-ACETYL CYSTEINE is great for the eyes. That’s why we put it in macula. In the brain, NAC is actually calming. I take N-ACETYL CYSTEINE once in a while because I'm under tremendous stress, but I handle it very well because when you get more and more stress in your life your body kind of adjusts to it and increases the amount of stress you can handle. All I have is deadlines, deadlines for labels, deadlines for designing products, deadlines for writing articles, deadlines for how many radio shows a week. I've got nine live radio programs per week. That’s a lot of deadlines.
You change how you handle stress, the more stress you have, but yet when I'm really stressed out, the NAC makes a critical difference because N-ACETYL CYSTEINE is an antioxidant of the brain. When you reduce free radicals on the brain, it’s very healthy. It’s healthy for people who are depressed. It’s healthy for people who are anxious. It’s healthy for people who are bipolar.
But NAC, I'm telling you, they’ve done studies in smokers, when they give them N-ACETYL CYSTEINE, they enjoy smoking less. They don’t want to smoke as much. Some of them actually quit. When they gave NAC to people who abuse alcohol, they don’t feel like they need the alcohol anymore. They feel happy on the NAC. You know, people who abuse things like alcohol and cigarettes do it and they feel lousy. They feel mentally poor all the time, so when they do that it gives them a charge. They don’t need it when they do the NAC because it makes the brain feel really good and comfortable and kind of stable just like the way you want to feel.
Let me explain something about this supplement. In the lining of the lungs, you have this tiny little hair they call microvilli. They’re actually a remnant of bacteria, believe it or not. In other words, if you believe in evolution, we evolve from bacteria. Bacteria used this little mycelium to move. They were their legs. They had thousands of these little legs around them. When the bacteria joined together and made these multi-celled animals, we retain those little hairs. For instance, those little hairs are in our digestive tract. They release immune things that kill viruses and bacteria in the intestines. Those little hairs are in our lungs. They're called microvilli or ciliary bodies. In fact, you have these little hairs in your ear. If you didn’t have these little hairs in your ear, you wouldn’t be able to hear because they pick up the transmission of sound waves. But, inside your lungs, you’ve got thin layer of mucousy fluid, and you’ve got these little hairs, and these things help move the little dust particles and sweat particles and little particles of stone and all these things that don’t belong in the lung. It helps move them out of the lungs. So, these hairs and the fluid in the lungs have to be rich in antioxidants to protect the lung lining. Otherwise, if you inhaled smoke from a fire, it would destroy your lung tissue. So your lung has to be rich in certain antioxidants. It’s rich in vitamin C. It’s rich in vitamin E, selenium, and B vitamins, but especially NAC. It’s extremely rich in NAC. And that helps to protect your lungs.
In the winter, you want lung antioxidants. That’s for sure. In the summer, you want it because of the pollution. I mean, the pollution rises dramatically in the summer. You know, I walk around in the city now and it feels clean. The air is clean, but it’s very dry so you want to NAC to protect your lungs from the dryness, because the dryness causes inflammation in your lungs. But in the summer, the pollution rates sky rocket. All that dampness holds the pollution down like it does in Athens, like it does in Los Angeles, all that moisture from the Hudson River, from the East River, from the Long Island Sound, from the Atlantic Ocean, holds the smog down. You need N-ACETYL CYSTEINE to protect your lungs from that smog because that stuff causes violent inflammation in the lungs.
Why else would NAC be good in the winter? Because it gives energy to your immune system. The University of Genoa in Italy published their findings in the European Respiratory Journal about this, using almost 300 people over the age of 65 from 20 Italian medical centers. When they gave elderly people NAC over the winter it improved their immune function. It strongly improved their resistance. Do you know why? N-ACETYL CYSTEINE energized their immune cells, their white blood cells. Just like the lungs have to be soaked and rich in antioxidants like NAC, so does your white blood cell because when it encounters a virus or bacteria, it gobbles it up. That’s the process called phagocytosis. The white blood cell bumps into the bacteria that it doesn’t recognize it as being part of the person and it literally engulfs it and then it floods itself with hydrochloric acid and other chemicals that kill the bacteria. It literally dissolves the bacteria and the bacteria die. The white blood cell has to be protected from its own acids and its own chemical arsenal. It wages chemical warfare on viruses and bacteria and cancer cells. So, the envelope of the white blood cell, the membrane, the bilipid membrane, which is the outer layers of the white blood cell have to be rich in antioxidants. Once again, what are they? Vitamin E, vitamin C, selenium, B vitamins and NAC.
When you take NAC, you protect your immune system from its own chemical weapons, so it can go and fight bacteria and viruses and be energized. It has more energy to do its job. So, take N-ACETYL CYSTEINE over the winter. You only have to take it twice a day with food. Always take N-ACETYL CYSTEINE with meals. When you take NAC in the winter, take one with breakfast, one with dinner, drink your green tea. It will really help keep you healthy, because it’s really supporting your immune system. It’s a very important thing. In general, it’s great for the lungs. In general, it’s great for the eyeball. It’s great for the kidneys and liver. It is one of the best things for supporting good blood volume. You know, we’ve spoken about grape seed lowering blood pressure, well, NAC strongly supports blood flow too.
When is that important? Well, that’s important when you’re exercising. NAC opens up blood vessels. It opens up blood flow, the channels that bring blood and oxygen and nutrition to your muscles. You get a better work out when you take NAC before workout. So, all you guys, 40, 50, 60 years old who are listening, who are runners, and you all ladies who are runners, NAC, about half an hour to an hour before the exercise with a meal will open up the blood vessels. Your muscles will get more oxygen. You’ll have greater endurance and you’ll be less sore and have less risk of an injury. You will do better and recover more quickly. N-ACETYL CYSTEINE is also great for the brain. It makes you feel good.